Drought in Western Isles


"Drought hits the Western Isles 6/7/12

The Western Isles is facing one of its worst droughts in living memory
while other parts of Scotland are suffering severe flooding.

Islanders are being told to conserve water after utility company Scottish
Water warns that reservoirs levels are dropping after a prolonged dry

Exceptionally good weather and months with little rain has created the
drought conditions and resulted in a very large number of wild fires in
many places across the islands.

There were four large blazes which swept through the tinder-dry historic
Lews Castle Grounds in Stornoway.

For a period, the danger of firemen being killed prevented them from
tackling the flames whipping around a main electricity sub-station - as
water on live electricity is lethal.

The falling water level in the nearby river meant fire crews had to call
in water tankers to fight the fires.

Amateur footballers are also taking a few knocks on rock hard pitches -
with the local fire brigade being called out to hose a couple of local
sports fields.

Golf courses have been scorched by the lack of rain with sprinklers going
at Stornoway Golf Club in a desperate struggle to soften the greens before
a week-long round of competitions start next week.

The Scarista course turned orangey brown though a sprinkling of light rain
recently aided its limited recovery.

The problems is worse on the Isle of Harris where the thinner layer of
peat over hard rock means some traditional wells are empty and elderly
islanders report never seeing conditions as bad as this.

Thousands of islanders are told to "use water wisely" for the rest of the
summer and Scottish Water is preparing to truck in water tankers and pump
supplies from one source to another.

Worst affected areas in the Western Isles are South Uist, Lochmaddy,
Stornoway and North Tolsta.

According to the Met Office, the Outer Hebrides has received only 14.5mm
of rain from the first 24 days of June compared to the 78.4mm usually
expected for the whole of the month. "